Crow’s Feet
Published in

Crow’s Feet


“There’s No Damn Heaven,” He Cursed.

Then he prayed for the non-existence of Hell *

A heavenly morning sunrise. Image credit: The author

The Line Is Dead touched a nerve for many. The discussion of phone contacts for departed friends and loved ones prompted multiple responses.

Don’t delete me. I’m still on the right side of the grass.— Jim C.

Well, of course not! I struggle with deletion even for those who are not.

As we age, the list of lost contacts will grow until we join them.— Jim F.


This hits home hard.

I’ve been unable to remove my mother’s phone number from my contact list. It’s now been just over two years since she’s been lost to me.

Part of it is the fear that if I proceed, I’ll lose my mother’s voice in the voicemails she left me. I’ve listened to them once in date order, and I can clearly detect the decline. Her last few exhibited the certain signs of dementia. I will eventually listen again and have to decide how long to keep these with me. A difficult decision.

It is hard enough to deal with the things in her house we don’t want. I’ve decided to sell some stuff on eBay. Old books and encyclopedias are the hardest to deal with. They are heavy and out of date.

Our son wants to live in my childhood home and I’m greatly relieved. It stays in the family, and he is close. And I don’t have to take down the train set in the basement. What a relief.

I’m always glad to hear from you and give you

My Best Regards— Jim D.

(No, being named Jim is not a requirement to be Randy’s friend.)

Randy’s response to Jim:

I gave my train set to a neighbor who has filled his basement with a layout for his grandchildren. I’m happy that it has gone to a place where it is appreciated rather than continuing its limbo existence in my hoard.

I too have a voicemail of my mother’s voice (from over five years ago). It is from my sister. She prompts our mother to speak.

Mom was well down the path of dementia, but not gone. The voicemail is a bittersweet memory of both who she was and where she was headed. I don’t listen to it but have been unable to delete it. I expect that the digital world will take care of that for me at some time in the future.

Rich added this:

So a while ago, back while I was still gainfully employed, I was on a business trip and happened to stay at a hotel chain I had not stayed at before. They met me by name and welcomed me back after an extended absence. I told the person I hadn’t been there before and they were quite sure I had. I asked for the address for the account and I found it was associated with my uncle whom I was named for. He had passed a few years before, so I told them they could terminate the account for him because he had passed, and I would start a new one. They were happy to sign me up, but they couldn’t terminate without his authorization. They’ll be waiting quite a while for that. 8-)

“t’s reassuring to know that another human being has the same thoughts and feelings I do. I have probably 25 deceased friends and family members in my contact list. And I can’t bear to DELETE them! I agree, every time I see their names I think of them. I remember them fondly…— Peter

I can’t delete them. They bring smiles and tears. — Trudy

Your wife is so very wise. — Multiple responses

As has been much of the past 10 months, I’m working on things associated with my mom. Your post made me smile and now a shower of tears. The happiness needle is frequently vibrating. Thanks.— Dave

Good to know that my phone number will live in possibly multiple (not-so) smartphones while I continue to petition for entry into heaven, petition for entry into heaven, petition for entry into heaven…


(Russ provided this with apologies to Jim Morrison, for whom he has no phone number.)

I am out of the office with limited e-mail access through Friday. — Tony, my friend and attorney (Hey, it can happen!)

Hello! Are you alive?

When I see the name I say the name, they are alive in my memory from those moments and I am thankful for having had them in my life.

I wish they would pick up the phone too. I have a saved voicemail of my brother telling me he loves me. No, do not delete.— Jen

And finally, this conversation with Kathy:

I still keep my friends in my contacts after they’ve passed. I can’t bring myself to delete them.

Do you believe in the afterlife? Does that consciousness continue to exist? I do, and sometimes I will try to make contact.

A number of decades ago I read a series of books by an engineer who, only as an engineer could, experimented and documented his attempts and adventures exploring communication with departed folks. I remember that he imagined sitting on a tropical beach at a tiki bar. Then he imagined the person he was trying to contact and having them join him while trying to conjure up what it would feel like to be with them and feel their essence. Then he would pretend to have a conversation with them and just see what happens.

In September my long-time dear friend and bandmate, Kevin, died in his sleep. A week and a half later I decided to sit very still and try to imagine having umbrella drinks with him at a tiki bar on a tropical beach (like that author did). I started my imaginary conversation with Kevin and he says ‘A tiki bar?! Really? Maybe a pub or something.’ LOL

Randy’s response:

You are like many who responded to the post. And me.

Regarding the afterlife, I’ve concluded that should it exist, it would be so different from anything we can conjure that imagining it is futile. There is very little hard data that points to it, but occasional anecdotes make one wonder. Regardless, I’ll find out or not when the time comes. ’Til then, I’m not terribly concerned about it.

Regarding death, my philosophy is formed mostly by one song, “And When I Die” by Laura Nyro, though it’s the BS&T version I listen to. Particularly the lines about not believing in heaven, but saying a little prayer that hell does not exist.* Smile.

And more importantly, I embrace the specification that peace is what one finds in dying.

Great story about Kevin. And really, a tiki bar?

In my version, we sit down in a pub after a long game of soccer. And we drink Angel Ale to our heart’s delight, with no fear of hangover, gout, or a myriad of other maladies. Now that’s heaven.

To which Kathy replied:

My bandmate is an atheist, doesn’t believe in a higher power or in the existence of the soul. I have this long-running joke with him — if he’s wrong, when he dies he will discover I am right. If he’s right, when he dies, he’ll never know! LOL!

*Inspired by lyrics you probably know from “And When I Die” by Laura Nyro, which was popularized by Blood, Sweat and Tears. One would think such lyrics can be quoted as fair use, particularly since they are attributed and promote the artists, but copyright worries loom.



“The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.” (Frank Lloyd Wright) Non-fiction pieces, personal essays and occasional poems that explore how we feel about how we age and offer tips for getting the most out of life.

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Randy Fredlund

I Write. Hopefully, you smile. Or maybe think a new thought. Experiences and observations are presented in words and images.